The one of the key pigment genes, the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) gene, plays a fundamental role in the determination of coat color in a variety of mammals. However, so far there has been no report regarding the genetic variants of the MC1R promoter region and the potential association of its mutations with coat color in foxes. This work aimed to characterize 5'-flanking region of the MC1R gene and its mutations associated with coat color variations in foxes. A total of 76 individuals including 64 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), representing 11 color morphs, and 12 arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus), representing 2 color morphs were studied. To explore the potential cause of coat color variation in foxes, an 1105 bp region located upstream of the MC1R gene coding region was sequenced in 76 foxes. In the present study, a 1267 bp 5'-flanking region of fox MC1R gene was obtained using a PCR-mediated chromosome-walking technique and a 1105 bp segment was sequenced. A total of 8 novel SNPs and an insertion/deletion of 4 nucleotides were detected. The results of mutations analysis indicated that SNPs g.-52G>A, g.-266A>G, g.-297T>C, g.-300G>A and the insertion/deletion spaning positions g.-382~-379 were important in distinguishing V. vulpes and V. lagopus. This work, for the first time, described and confirmed the different variants existed in the 5'-flanking region of MC1R gene between red foxes and arctic foxes. These findings may be extremely helpful for further exploring the alternative splicings or promoter activity of MC1R gene for different coat-colored foxes.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: May 18, 2017
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